“Men and Women for Others”
Educating students to be men and women for others is an important part of a Jesuit education. And it’s something the Jesuits take seriously.
The Cristo Rey Network is an example of that. In the past school year, this Jesuit program has educated 8,000 students throughout the country. Ninety six percent of those students were minorities living in families with an average income of $34,000. One hundred percent of the graduates of the Classes of 2014 were accepted to 2 or 4 year colleges, something rarely heard of in urban schools.
Each student participates in a Corporate Work Study Program in which each student works five days a month. This funds the majority of the tuition. Four students share one job, which is part of an employee leasing program. Classes are scheduled so that a student will not miss a lesson while at work.
St. Martin de Porres High School is located in Cleveland. About one third of this Cristo Rey school’s budget is derived from school choice vouchers. Unlike most Ohio schools that educate voucher students, the cost to educate each pupil far exceeds the amount the vouchers provide. A large portion of that difference is offset by the income the students earn at their jobs.
“To employers, Saint Martin, which is on Cleveland’s East Side in a historically Slovenian neighborhood, sells itself as a temp agency. For $28,100, a business “purchases” one full-time-equivalent student employee for the school year. Four students share that entry-level job, with one individual at the work site each day.”
Many view St. Martin’s as a school that should highlight the success of the school choice movement. It certainly shines as an example of success within the City of Cleveland that has a failing public school system.
St. Martin’s has high expectations for students. Students have to abide by the rules. If they do not, they are asked to leave. School President Rich Clark said,
Not only do students get the experience of a Catholic education, they also get real world experience in their jobs. They gain confidence in their abilities by working alongside adults in professional settings. These students are experiencing a transformation that will prepare them for college and beyond by learning in both classroom and real world settings. But they have to want it. They have to want it enough to do the work.
These expectations have translated into success. The success of this network of schools is undeniable. A 100% college acceptance rate certainly displays the effectiveness of these schools. Each student is aware of what is expected. And in this case expectations drive results.
Cristo Rey leaders act as voices in the educational reform movement. These students have benefitted from school choice. They are shining examples of the success. And a hallmark of Jesuit education is instilling the need to improve the community. By the examples they lead and by advocating for school choice options for other students, Cristo Rey is inspiring graduates to become Men and Women for Others.